Technology Empowering U.S. Diplomacy and Development

Online Voices for All - Panelist Bios

The ability to access the Internet and freely express one’s opinions is a core principal of Internet freedom. Unfortunately, there is a large online gender gap, limiting access to the Internet for many women and other marginalized groups. Once online, the ability of women and others such as LGBT and certain ethnic groups to exercise their basic right of freedom of expression is limited. Aware of filtering and monitoring, they refrain from online activities, fearing harassment, defamation campaigns, and intimidation that seeks to disenfranchise and marginalize. On International Women’s Day, Tech@State wants to address this inequality and engage in an open dialogue to discuss methods and techniques to create an online environment that will allow women, LGBT, and other underrepresented groups complete and unrestricted access to the internet and to provide them the ability to express themselves and their identities fully and without censorship.


Sarah Labowitz (Moderator) - U.S. Department of State

Sarah Labowitz is a policy advisor in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, where she develops and advocates State Department policy on a range of human rights and democracy issues. Sarah has served on the staff of the Secretary’s Coordinator for Cyber Issues, and from 2009 to 2011, she ran the State Department’s Internet freedom program. Before joining the State Department, Sarah worked on issues of business and human rights at the Fair Labor Association and Human Rights First.

Sarah was named to Forbes Magazine’s 2012 “30 Under 30” list for Law and Policy . She is a graduate of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and Grinnell College.


Golnaz Esfandiari - Radio Free Europe

Golnaz Esfandiari is a Senior Correspondent in RFE/RL's Central Newsroom and editor of the award-winning Persian Letters blog. She previously worked as the Chief Editor of  RFE/RL ‘s Persian Service Radio Farda. 

Golnaz is the author of  the Iran chapter of the 2012 Freedom House's ' Countries in Crossroad' report. Golnaz has reported from a number of countries including Haiti and Afghanistan where she covered  the country’s first parliamentary elections. 

Her reporting and analysis on Iran has been cited by The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy,  The Los Angeles Times, and The Weekly Standard. 

Golnaz (@GEsfandiari) was tagged two years in a row in Foreign Policy's  Top 100 Twitterati list.


Ebel Okobi-Harris - Business and Human Rights Program, Yahoo!

Ebele Okobi is Director of Yahoo!’s Business & Human Rights Program, leading Yahoo!’s efforts to promote privacy and free expression on the Internet and to identify innovative solutions to human rights problems. Before Yahoo!, Ms. Okobi worked as a corporate lawyer at Davis Polk & Wardwell in New York, Paris and London, an attorney fellow at Consumers Union (a consumer rights advocacy NGO) in San Francisco, a director of Advisory Services at Catalyst (an NGO with the mission of advancing women in business) in San Jose and Amsterdam and at Nike’s EMEA headquarters in Amsterdam, where she created marketing, corporate responsibility and business development strategy for Africa and NikeWomen. Ms. Okobi earned a BA in Psychology from the University of Southern California, a JD from Columbia Law School, an MBA Certificat des Études from HEC-Paris and also serves on the board of the Carr Educational Foundation, the parent organization for Daraja Academy, a boarding secondary school for exceptional Kenyan girls.


Courtney Radsch - United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (...

Courtney C. Radsch is the former senior program manager for the Global Freedom of Expression Campaign. An international media expert with more than 12 years of journalism, new media and program management experience in the U.S., Middle East and Europe, Ms. Radsch regularly serves as a spokesperson for Freedom House on media and technology issues, has been quoted extensively in U.S. and foreign media outlets, and has represented the organization at numerous conferences, workshops, and events on the topics of internet and press freedom, cyberactivism, and most recently social media and the Arab Spring. Ms. Radsch also has experience conducting media training, including journalism, cross cultural communications, and digital/social media, and international media development and has conducted research, assessment, and advocacy missions to Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Lebanon, Libya, Mozambique, Turkey, Uganda and the United Nations in New York and Geneva. Prior to joining Freedom House, Ms. Radsch worked for Al Arabiya news station in Dubai. She has also held positions at the New York Times, the Daily Star (Lebanon), and the Development Executive Group, and her articles have been published in an array of media outlets and books. Radsch is completing her doctorate in international relations at American University and turning her dissertation, "The Revolution Will be Blogged: Cyberactivism in Egypt," into a book. She holds a Masters degree from the Georgetown's School of Foreign Service and a Bachelor's degree in Mass Communication from the University of California, Berkeley. She is proficient in Arabic, French and Spanish.


Ivan Sigal - Global Voices

Ivan Sigal is the Executive Director of Global Voices (, a non-profit online global citizens’ media initiative with expertise in supporting developing world initiatives of citizen media. He writes and speaks about media, conflict, networked societies, development, and humanitarian disasters. He designs and creates media projects around the world, with a focus on networked communities. 

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